Habbab Bin Arat Embraces Islam
Habbab bin Arat was the freed slave of a woman by the name of Umm Anmar, who was also an enemy of Islam. He was a blacksmith who made swords. He had been in contact with our Holy Prophet (PBUH) for a long time.
He became a Muslim during a time in which our Holy Prophet (PBUH) had not yet settled in Darul Arqam.
During those days, becoming a Muslim and openly declaring one’s faith meant risking one’s own property and life. Despite this, Hazrat Habbab bravely declared and revealed that he had become a Muslim without showing the slightest sign of fright.
The polytheists of Quraysh tortured and persecuted him when they heard that he had become a Muslim. It was as if Umm Anmar had gone mad due to her rage. She had him tied and branded his head with heated iron. Hazrati Habbab was now being tortured through the means of his livelihood! However, it was all in vain! His heart had already been ignited with the love of faith.
One day, he came to the presence of God’s Messenger (PBUH) and complained about Umm Anmar and the pain on his head. Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) prayed, “Oh God, help Habbab!”
Immediately after his prayer, Umm Anmar became afflicted with a severe headache. She would consistently moan due to her intense pain. At last, someone suggested that she have her head branded with fire. As a result, Hazrat Habbab branded her head for some period of time.
Hazrat Habbab was in Fire and Flames
One day, the polytheists who were devoid of compassion and mercy lit a huge fire in front of Hazrat Habbab. They laid him on top of the fire, stepped on his chest, and left him there for some time. (1)
Many years later, Hazrat Umar became the Caliph of Islam. In one occasion when Hazrat Habbab was next to him, Hazrat Umar mentioned the accounts of hardship and cruelty that they had faced by saying: “There is only one person on the surface of this Earth who is more worthy of this congregation.” Hazrat Habbab was curious and asked, “O, Caliph (Head of the Muslims), who is this person?”
Hazrat Umar responded, “It is Bilal.”
Hazrat Habbab replied, “O, Caliph! He was not tortured as much as I was since there was someone to protect Bilal from the the polytheists’ infliction of cruelty. Whereas I did not have a guardian then; nor do I have one now”. Afterwards, he continued to explain how the polytheists laid him inside of a fire:
“One day the polytheists held me and lit a fire. They placed me on my back inside the fire. Then one man stepped on top of my chest and did not leave me until the floor cooled!” After he spoke these words, Hazrat Habbab opened his chest which had been mottled due to the burns of the fire.
Hazrat Habbab Applied to our Holy Prophet (PBUH)
Despite having been inflicted with all kinds of torture and persecution, Hazrat Habbab did not make the slightest concession from his faith and did not refrain from displaying his unceasing love for God and His Messenger (PBUH). He was a slave and was not in a position to overcome the polytheists. He did not have any choice but to apply to our Holy Prophet (PBUH) regarding the torture and persecution he faced. And that was what he did. One day, he went to our Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) presence and said, “O, God’s Apostle, will you not pray for us so that we can be saved from this torture, to which we are subjected?” Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) provided the following answer which is filled with many lessons and glad tidings:
“There were certain individuals among the communities that came before you whose entire skin and flesh was peeled and shaved off with an iron comb and even this kind of torture did not turn them away from their religion. Of course God will complete this mission (Islam) and will make it superior to all other religions in such a way that an individual who rides his animal alone from San’a to Hadramut will fear no one but God and his sole earthly worry will be of wolves attacking his sheep. However, you are all in a hurry.” (2)
His Response to As bin Wail
As bin Wail, one of the most savage individuals among the polytheists, had an important debt that he owed Hazrat Habbab. One day Hazrat Habbab went to ask for his payment. This savage polytheist replied, “I am not going to pay my debt until you disbelieve Muhammad.” “I will abandon everything yet I will never deny him; neither in this world nor after I die”, answered Hazrat Habbab. Upon this As bin Wail arrogantly said, “will I be resurrected after I die? In that case, be patient. I will pay the debt I owe you on the day I am resurrected and once I am reunited with my property and children.” (3) Upon those words of As b. Wail, God Almighty stated the following in the verses He sent down:
“Hast thou then seen the (sort of) man who rejects Our Signs, yet says: "I shall certainly be given wealth and children"? Has he penetrated to the Unseen, or has he taken a promise with (God) Most Gracious? Has he penetrated to the Unseen, or has he taken a promise with (God) Most Gracious? Nay! We shall record what he says, and We Shall add and add to his punishment. To Us shall return all that he talks of, and he shall appear before Us bare and alone.” (4)
Just as Habbab would risk every type of danger by declaring that he had become a Muslim, he would also be preoccupied with teaching and instructing new Muslims on how to read the Holy Quran. When Hazrat Umar furiously entered the home of his sister and brother-in-law with his sword drawn, this self-sacrificing companion was reciting and teaching them the verses that had been recently sent.
1. Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqat: 3/165
2. Bukhari: 4/238-239
3. Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqat 3/164-165
4. Surah Maryam, 77-80
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